Drums of oil

The Federal Government has set up a panel of experts to audit the activities of oil companies in the upstream petroleum industry in the last two years so as to ascertain the actual volume of crude oil stolen by vandals. It said on Tuesday that the audit became necessary following allegations by some industry players about the high rate of oil theft in the sector, which had prevented Nigeria from meeting its production quota as approved by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Last week, Nigeria’s billionaire businessman, Tony Elumelu, stated that the reason why the country had been unable to meet its oil production quota was not because of low investment but theft. Elumelu’s position came as a sharp contrast to the recent comments of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who had attributed Nigeria’s inability to meet its oil production quota to low investments. Nigeria’s oil production quota as approved by OPEC is pegged at about 1.8 million barrels per day but in the last few years the country has struggled between 1.3 and 1.4 million barrels per day.